Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Real White-Knuckler Nattany Lions Win in Fourth Overtime after Surging Back Late in Regulation Penn State 43, Michigan 40

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Real White-Knuckler Nattany Lions Win in Fourth Overtime after Surging Back Late in Regulation Penn State 43, Michigan 40

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The end was loud and exciting and improbable, just the way it should have been on a thriller of a night at Beaver Stadium. Running back Bill Belton received a handoff and it looked like he was facing a wall -- one of the many obstacles placed before Penn State throughout this marathon of a game -- but he pushed forward, sliced a bit to the left and found the end zone. The goal-line barrier that acted as a force field through the first three overtimes had been crossed.

And like that, Penn State won, 43-40, against No. 18 Michigan in four overtimes. A few minutes earlier, Penn State (4-2, 1-1) trailed, 34-24, and was barely able to breathe on offense. What could have been a second consecutive disappointing week turned into a pleasant ending for the 107,884 fans who watched and screamed, and for the players. They have come back before. But many agreed they hadn't experienced a game quite like this.

"Just to see how resilient my team was, Penn State-Michigan my senior year," offensive lineman John Urschel said. "This is probably going to be the greatest college football game that I've ever played in."

It could have easily ended on a dour note for Penn State. The game still would have been a thriller, but not the ideal ending for the Nittany Lions. Both teams had opportunities to win much earlier than the fourth overtime. Neither of them could -- until that final play.

From the 2-yard line, Penn State called for an off-tackle run play for Belton. He watched the play develop as he held the ball, saw that tackle Donovan Smith hooked his guy and decided to skip outside. He saw that he was going to go in untouched. He saw the end right before him.

"My eyes did light up," Belton said. "It was crazy. I always wanted to step up."

Minutes earlier, in the same overtime period, Belton converted a fourth-and-inches run play. …

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